South America Trip Planning Tips

This page is a collection of links that I found to be very useful when planning for the South American leg.

Getting your bike there

Air or Sea freight? You might think that freighting your bike by sea to South America is cheaper than air, but many ports charge excessive release fees. Buenos Aires is one such port, port clearance charges can quickly rack up to more than the actual shipping charges. As of 2011, port clearance and handling charges costs was around USD 800-1,000 for a single bike and can take up to 5 days to get the bike cleared! I decided to send my bike by air.

Another option is to buy a bike when you get to South America. There are pros and cons to this, it’s cheaper but you may not be able to cross borders easily. You will need to do your own research if you are interested in this

AIR Import process – An excellent step by step guide to clearing your bike through Buenos Aires Airport

SEA Import process – If you are going to ship by sea, here is a good thread on what hurdles you can expect to jump through.

Crating tips  – Packing and crating tips


Useful Wikipedia links for visa requirements

A carnet is less important in South America than in other regions, but it can make border crossings easier.


3rd party vehicle insurance is mandatory in many of the countries; it is also needed to get your bike through Buenos Aires customs. Most of South America seems to refer to this insurance as SOAT, (Seguro Obligatorio de Accidentes de Transito). The larger insurance agents can provide you with a policy that covers multiple countries so you don’t need to get a new policy in each country. I’ve not done this yet, but it is the plan for now …

Learning to speak Spanish

Michel Thomas – Excellent way to learn Spanish from the legendary linguist. You might end up speaking Spanish with a Polish accent, but you will do so faster than other methods.

Coffee Break Spanish – Free Spanish podcasts from Radio Lingua

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